Male, Female or …

Welcome to my second post of the semester!

Over the last fortnight I’ve been searching for  answers in regards to my previous post- Who Chooses? I spent some time reading though journals by Anne Fausto-Sterling , in particular Sexing The Body; gender politics and the construction of sexuality  and the article ‘That Sexe Which Prevaileth’. It discusses the history of intersexuality in Europe and America, providing  case studies of people who were born with ambiguous genitals during the Premodern era. I very much  enjoyed reading about the mythological concept of hermaphrodite. It refers  back to the  ancient Greek story of Hermes and Aphrodite, who produced a child so thoroughly endowed with the attributes of each parent that unable to decide its sex – so hence called it hermaphrodite. For something that is a myth I think its a really nice representation of meaning for Intersex. We lack a meaning for intersex in today society because we can solve the problem of intersex with medical technology.

My question is: who’s problem are we solving?

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After watching the documentary  Intersextion (link to the YouTube video and I strongly advise everyone to watch it) I was upset and angry by the experiences that were told. Mani Mitchell, who we would call the narrator of this film talks of her experience growing up and how she felt that she was the only one who was “different”. The truth is, being intersex is common and it occurs in one in every two thousand births. This statistic really startled me when I read it as it puts into perspective the commonality of intersex births and also the amount of procedures that must be done day in and out to make sure that no one ever hears about it. 

In regards to the surgical procedure, not one of the interviewees were happy with the procedures that they undertook as children. They had no choice and rather waiting until they were older and able to make a decision doctors advised  their parents the best thing is  to make their abnormality “invisible”. They resented the doctors for conforming them to the gender category rather then allowing nature to take its course. For the people who didn’t undergo surgery in the film were  more confident with their sexuality and remain intersex because they feel that there is nothing wrong with it.

What I took from this film as well as the readings  is an understanding of our social structure. Western Society works on  the idea of categorising society into groups, whether that be of age, race, status and  sex. To be either  man or a woman sets you up in society and provides privileges, duties and limitations that you must instill in favor of not being rejected. To be a woman already sets you back and to be homosexual is to be completely out of the mold but to be intersex would set enforce a uproar in the fabrication of society. Our gender duties would fall apart.

blahhh im rambling on again….

until next Time

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who chooses?

 

 

After reading Bornstein’s article it got me thinking about our choice when it comes to being “male” or “female”. I know we all had those science classes where we learnt all about human anatomy and reproduction and that “men” and “women” have different genitalia that tells us apart but still… do we accept that that’s it, we can only be  men or a women and behave like a man or women and encompass certain traits that bind us  to that group forever ; AND  if we don’t act that way then there’s something wrong with us.

I know I’m not alone in my thoughts about gender being a social construct. I also know that there are people out there who believe that our behavioral traits are innate. I don’t condemn them because let’s face it, our characteristics are presented to us in the such a natural way its hard not to think its societies choice and not our own biology. A blog I found by MEGAN BÉNÉAT-DONALD really goes into this nurture vs nature debate and about the fact that our anatomy shouldn’t decide our destiny.I also found this film by Alice Dreger that touches on the same idea of destiny and what makes a “real man ” and a “real woman” .. really interesting stuff. AliceDreger_2011

wow still so much i want to say.. OK so on a more personal note I spent my holidays directing a play written by one of my favorite playwrights, Caryl Churchill. You may be wondering why this is at all related to this class, However, Caryl Churchill’s plays  are all about Gender identity and sexual repression. The play is called Cloud 9 and it’s about the identity of women and men who don’t fit the normal mold of society. The play is set in two acts , the first is in the Victorian era and the second act is at the end of the 1970’s. The representation of  the character Betty pokes fun at the ever present stereotype of the “housewife” in such a way that it brings to light just how stupid the stereotype is. What’s better is that Betty is played by a man in the first act, which further distinguishes the whole “destiny” idea. 

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I feel like I get to this point and it gets really intense and theoretical and I start making no sense at all. Evaluating gender is hard sometimes because there’s been so much research behind it. what I want to say about choice is that people shouldn’t have to stick to a label or adhere to certain conventions, they should have a choice. 

I’m really enjoying writing this blog. I think it’s a really good way to expand on my gender knowledge.

Till next time…